Project Description

Research

Purpose: To develop and evaluate a new self-paced, web-based, interactive training program for STEM mentors

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OVERVIEW

There is a national shortage of young people entering and remaining in STEM majors and careers. In addition, there are certain subgroups of youth particularly underrepresented in STEM including girls, youth with a disability, youth living in a low-income family, youth who are or will be first-generation college students, and youth from an ethnic or racial minority group.

One promising strategy to excite, recruit, and retain youth in STEM is to offer them the opportunity to participate in a STEM mentoring program. Pre-match mentor training has been shown to support the development of close and longer-lasting mentoring relationships; however, no mentor training specific to issues relevant to STEM mentoring of youth exist.

In addition to tailoring mentor training to the needs of training mentors in skills related to STEM success, training directors of mentoring programs, more generally, have requested the ability to customize online training to meet the unique needs of their program, sometimes adding lessons and sometimes deleting those that may not be relevant to their program model or requirements.

A second goal of this project was to enhance the flexibility of iRT’s eTrove, a learning (LMS) and project management software platform, to allow diverse STEM mentoring programs to create custom training for their volunteer mentors.

In Phase 1, two pre-match mentor training lessons were created based upon the practice experience of the PI’s, key informant interviews with STEM mentoring professionals, and a comprehensive literature review conducted by two of the investigators. In addition, custom course creation functionality will be programmed into the eTrove LMS and alpha tested.

Once the lessons and LMS enhancements were programmed and alpha tested, STEM mentoring program staff members (N = 5) individually tested the usability of the software in a One-to-One Evaluation Study. After any software errors or usability problems were addressed, a Feasibility Study testing both the training and the new software functionality was conducted with staff from eight STEM mentoring programs and three mentors from each program.

TEAM MEMBERS

Janis Kupersmidt
Janis Kupersmidt
Rebecca Stelter
Rebecca Stelter
Katie Stump
Katie Stump

RELATED PRESENTATIONS

Kupersmidt, J. B., Stelter, R. L., & Garringer, M. (2018, October). STEM Mentoring: Research-based recommendations for program practices. Workshop presented at the Mentoring Institute at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.

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